BMatt’s Monday musings
AUBURN | All 347 D-I basketball teams go into the season hoping to earn that magical bid to the Big Dance.
But Auburn won’t be one of them after the program self-imposed a postseason ban for the 2020-21 season. There will be no SEC Tournament or NCAA Tournament for a team bursting with talented freshmen and sophomores.
It’s a pretty harsh penalty considering what we know about the case — emphasis on what we know.
Chuck Person accepted $91,500 to steer two players — Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy — to a financial advisor, offering $18,500 to the players’ mothers. Person was indicted on federal conspiracy charges and fired three years ago while Wiley and Purifoy sat out the 2017-18 season.
Person was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and two years of probation 16 months ago.
The two players that served a suspension were essentially being offered an incentive through their parents to leave the program. If Auburn received any advantage, recruiting or otherwise, due to Person’s actions, I’m not seeing it.
Person lost his job and his reputation. Wiley and Purifoy lost a season.
Now, three years later, this Auburn basketball team can’t play in the postseason.
Again, that seems pretty harsh if that’s all there is to it.
All that said, if this is to ensure Bruce Pearl remains head coach at Auburn for the foreseeable future then I’m 100 percent behind it.
He inherited a program that was the worst in the SEC over the previous decade and turned it into a winner in every sense of the word. He took Auburn to the Final Four for the first time in school history and already has one of AU’s two SEC Tournament titles and one of the four SEC regular season championships.
And he did that with a team full of over-achievers, not 5-star super talents.
He’s done more to promote Auburn University and all of its athletic programs than any coach I’ve covered over the past 20 years. Auburn is very fortunate to have Pearl and should do everything in its power to keep him.
If fans of other schools or some in the national media want to vilify him or Auburn for it, let ‘em. Judging by my mentions on Twitter, they’re having a ball. But it’s just noise to me.
He lied to the NCAA about a BBQ 12 years ago and paid for it with a three-year show-cause. A BBQ. One of his assistants committed a crime and paid a price along with two of his players.
That’s it as far as I know so spare me your Pearl outrage. It’s unbearably pretentious and contrived.
Moving onto football, I’d say that a 5-2 record considering the injuries and the interruptions due to COVID-19 is pretty darn good, and Gus Malzahn and his staff deserve credit for it, not disdain.
But the South Carolina game, you scream from the mountain top. How could this team ever lose to a USC team that just fired its coach?
Well, my answer is this team was never going to get through six consecutive conference games to start the season with less than two losses. Auburn was clearly out-classed by Georgia, but it had to fight and scrap to win most of the other five games. Even the LSU win looks better since the defending national champs were able to pull to 3-3 with a road win at Arkansas.
Auburn is probably more talented than Kentucky, Arkansas, South Carolina, LSU (maybe) and Tennessee 1-22, but the disparity is not enough that the Tigers can just roll over them if they’re not playing well.
Just about every team in the SEC, other than this week’s opponent in the Iron Bowl, has had its share of unexpected results. I’m not surprised Georgia lost to Alabama and Florida, but I am surprised it was by a combined 33 points. I certainly didn’t expect LSU to open the season with a home loss to a Mississippi State team that’s currently 2-5. Tennessee had no business getting blown out by Kentucky 34-7 at home.
And we’ve still got 3-4 more weeks to go.
Auburn is probably going to finish 6-4 or 7-3. I think that’s a reasonable assumption looking at the remaining three opponents: No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Texas A&M and MSU.
That’s a good result, not great. Now, there are certainly higher expectations for everybody involved in the program from the coaches to the players to the alumni and to the fans. There’s an expectation that Auburn should compete for championships.
That’s not happening this season, but it needs to happen in 2021. And I think it can.
In today’s musical journey we go back 52 years to the release of one of the greatest albums of all time. On Nov. 22, 1968, the Beatles released their ninth studio album, The Beatles, which is better known as the White Album. The cover was plain white with only the band’s name embossed, which was an intentional contrast to their previous release, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The double-album is over 93 minutes long and includes 30 songs. The recording of the album during the summer of 1968, mainly at Abbey Road Studios in London, is also looked upon as the beginning of the end of one of the most influential bands of all time.
The White Album is praised for the many different styles of music including blues, folk, ska, avant-garde, rock and pop. Most of the songs were written during the band’s meditation course in India during the spring of 68. There was a lot of friction during the recording sessions with veteran engineer Geoff Emerick even leaving the audio halfway through due to the constant bickering. John Lennon first brought his then girlfriend, Yoko Ono, to the sessions, breaking the pact that previously kept wives and girlfriends out of the studio. Paul McCartney also brought his girlfriend and the wives of George Harrison and Ringo Starr made more appearances.
Rolling Stone rates the White Album as the 10th best of all time while Colin Larkin, the editor of the Encyclopedia of Popular Music, ranks it fifth. The album included several hits such as Dear Prudence, Revolution 1, Back in the USSR and Blackbird, but it’s Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps that is rated by many as the album’s best. The song was initially dismissed by Lennon and McCartney, who didn’t have a lot of respect for Harrison’s songwriting ability at the time, so he brought in his friend, Eric Clapton, to help record it. Rolling Stone ranks it as the 136th best song of all time.
** Check out all the stars in this 1987 video…